Beyond Interfaith Dialogue

My heart was warmed to read a lovely story of how young people from a church and a mosque have gone beyond stiff and awkward formal dialogues across tables to forge budding friendships and create platforms for interactions amongst people of two different faiths: Christianity and Islam. 


A church and a mosque in the Geylang Serai area building bridges and tearing down walls through joint activities and projects would be unheard of twenty years ago. I found the extent and depth of progress that have been made encouraging. The stories of how this interaction is affecting the young people of different faiths is inspiring and augurs well for interfaith relations and understanding in the future. 


This has always been an area of concern that crops up occasionally when older adults like me chat with friends who were brought up in mixed neighbourhoods and schools where inter-racial intermingling and friendships were common. As a child I grew up in a neighbourhood where the apartment units directly around us were Malay, Indian and Chinese. We played together. We went to the same school. We visited each other’s home. And we enjoyed festive food during Hari Raya, Chinese New Year or Deepavali. We saw and heard things that helped us understand each other’s different culture and faith. 

It is different for the younger generation today. I don’t know what happened such that all my neighbours in Bukit Batok were Chinese. My children studied in Pei Hwa Primary School and there were no Indians and Malays there. Mainly at tertiary level did they have opportunities to mix with other races, but did they? By then I doubt they would go out of their way to intentionally make friends with those of other races. 


That is why I find it heart-warming that the church and the mosque were deliberately building bridges as neighbours. Easter and briyani: what a title to reflect diversity and interfaith partnership! I pray that their endeavours to understand and appreciate each others faith will continue to yield the fruit of love for neighbour in deeper dimensions. 

To read the full article by Lee Siew Hua tap on this Easter and briyani: How a church and mosque build bridges, not walls to stem youth self-radicalisation 

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